10 years from now, European club football will look very different.
Changes to the Champions League from 2024 are in the works, as are plans to introduce the UEFA Europa Conference League for the 2021/2022 season.
The latest shake up for football on the continent comes in the form of the Beneliga. Although there is still a long way to go, all 25 professional clubs in Belgium have thrown their support behind merging the Pro League with the Dutch Eredivisie.
The new division would likely generate a broadcasting and marketing revenue on par with some of Europe’s top five leagues, helping to increase competitiveness across Europe. Well…that’s the plan anyway.
Here is how the new Dutch/Belgian super league could look like…
It is thought that the Dutch ‘big six’, namely Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord, AZ Alkmaar, Utrecht and Vitesse Arnhem, would be afforded a place in the league.
Belgium’s biggest five clubs: Anderlecht, Club Bruges, Standard de Liege, Ghent and Genk, would also be placed into the proposed BeNeliga. The remaining seven places in the division would then be determined by results over the previous five seasons, with a split of 10 Dutch and eight Belgian sides. We are sure that is going to cause absolutely zero controversy.
It is not yet clear how relegation would work. The second tiers could potentially remain regionalised either by country or even across borders to minimise travel costs for less wealthy clubs.
The number of European places afforded to teams in the Netherlands and Belgium are also likely to be affected. Each nation currently has five spots each, but those are likely to reduce to at most seven, depending on how the Beneliga is ranked by UEFA’s coefficients.
Back in the early 2000s, PSV executives tabled plans for an Atlantic League featuring teams from the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland, Portugal and several Scandinavian countries. These plans have long been dead in the water, however, if the BeNeliga gets the go-ahead from UEFA and FIFA it may open the door for more cross-border leagues.
Although the Netherlands and Belgium will not be part of it, the Old Firm clubs are understood to be open to an Atlantic division, with team from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Republic of Ireland.